For various reasons, the recent events in Ferguson being chief amongst them, many have called for police officers to wear body cameras, so that their every interaction with the public can be documented. What a lot of people don’t understand, though, is that many police want the same thing. It could be an important step toward justifying their actions in the field.
Since 2010, police in Chula Vista have requested body cameras. The price for granting them this wish is estimated to be somewhere in the range of $500,000. If the City Council grants them this money on November 4th, when the Chula Vista Police Department plans on asking for it, some 120 cameras will be issued to the force. Provided approval doesn’t become an issue, officers could begin wearing them regularly as soon as January of 2015.
Agent Matt Hardesty has already tested a body camera while on duty. He told reporters recently that back in November he had one on when a confrontation with a suspect turned physical. Knowing the entire thing was being documented, Hardesty claims he felt much more confident fighting back and eventually subduing the man. Later, this video was used in court and the defendant pled guilty to all the felony charges.
These high-tech cameras would only take two finger taps to start working, but could then hold video for years at a time. While it could be transferred to computers, police could also use Bluetooth technology to view the video immediately on their smartphones.
Under new regulations, if the cameras are provided, non-eventful footage and traffic violations are expected to be held for 90 days before being discarded. Videos of misdemeanors would be kept for three years and felonies for five.
While all of this is good news, it’s also a reminder that long before the Miranda rights are read, anything you say or do could now be used in a court of law. This makes having a qualified attorney on call even more important.